It isn't enough to have a top Offense and Defense! No... the Chargers want, and have, it all. The Chargers special teams has quietly been one of the most dominant units in the league for the past several years. High percentage field goal kicking.... low number of returns and high net average on punts... and the AFC special teams Pro-Bowl representative 3 years straight.
Kicker: Nate Kaeding
As with a lot of his draft day moves A.J. Smith was criticised for using a 3rd round pick on an undersized kicker from Iawo. As usual, Smith and the Chargers were proven to have used the pick wisely. Over his 4 years with the team Kaeding has had the 5th highest field goal % of all kickers during that time. Kaeding has not missed a field goal from 20-29yds in 3 years. He has made 174 consecutive extra points, a team record, with his only miss coming in week 5 of his rookie season. The only knock on Kaeding was his problems in the playoffs were he has missed crucial game tying or winning kicks. He put that to rest though by going a solid 5 for 7 last season including a perfect 4 for 4 in freezing weather against New England. Considering the fact that he doesn't get much practice, his average attempt per year is 26 or 1.64 per game which is 2 attempts per year lower than the NFL average over the last 4 years, I would say we got ourselves a pretty good kicker.
Returner: Darren Sproles
Sproles has been a fantastic return specialist for the Chargers helping them to be a league leader in avg starting field position. Sproles is very explosive and is able to avoid traffic with his amazing stop-start and change of direction abilities. His contribution this year may be limited due to his being LT's main back-up.
Punter: Mike Scifers
The fact that he hasn't been to a Pro-Bowl yet is a travesty. Scifers is one of the most deadly accurate punters in the league. After learning his craft under good friend Darren Bennett during the 2003 season, he became an instant success finishing his first year as the starter with the NFL's 2nd best net avg and he has been solid as a rock since. There might be a few punters out there that are better than Scifers in one aspect or another, but there isn't a single one better at all categories than Mike. Over the last 4 seasons he has been among the league leaders in every category; average; net average; touchbacks allowed; returns; return yardage allowed; downed inside the 20; downed inside the 10. To top it all off, he has never allowed a punt to be returned for a TD.
Gunners: Kassim Osgood, Brandon Siler and Tim Dobbins
One of the reasons Scifers hasn't had a punt returned for a TD is the outstanding play of our gunner, especially 2 time AFC special teams Pro-Bowler Kassim Osgood. Osgood was second on the team in special teams tackles dispite being double and triple teamed on every kick. Those double and triple teams opened it up though for Siler who had a team leading 21 special teams tackles. Dobbins also made a solid contribution with 12 tackles. The kick coverage unit made several huge plays last season that resulted in TD's. Osgood seams to have accepted his role on the team and it looks like this unit is primed to have a stellar year.